It’s the day before

Thanksgiving here in North America. There’s six inches of snow on the ground outside. Thanksgiving doesn’t get a lot of attention when you haven’t grown up in the place, but it’s a nice idea nevertheless. When all of your relatives are literally on the other side of the planet, it’s hard to have a get together. Since Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform Facebook, locked me out of the account I’d had for at least 15 years, and demanded I upload my passport to get it back, I don’t even talk to them any more. Pernicious social media platforms I can live without, thank you very much.

Yesterday the pond wasn’t frozen over. Today it is. Maybe I’ll get my skates on and give it a try. ‘Morning Swill’ was boring today. I thought it finished at 8, but after 9 Minkella was still there interviewing some fellow. Joe was nowhere to be seen. He might have been at the shops buying a turkey, who knows? It has been said that Ben Franklin suggested that the turkey almost became the official national bird. The story got legs when Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter criticizing the original eagle design for the Great Seal, saying that it looked more like a turkey. He said it’s a “a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America…He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage.”. There are wild turkeys who wander around here all the time. They stroll through the front yard and continue on their merry way, free of the fear that somebody will shoot them.

The original design proposed by Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Congress in 1782.

The great Seal of the United States was officially adopted in 1782. The first die with the Great Seal was cut in 1782 in Philadelphia, possibly by the engraver Robert Scot. Roughly 2 ½ inches in diameter, it now resides at the National Archives in Washington DC where it is on public display.  Before I finish with today’s journal I may as well copypasta the saga of the great seal. It’s an interesting story, and it also means I don’t have to write much today.

The first die which can been seen at the National Archives in Washington DC.

From Americana Corner written by Tom Hand, a West Point graduate who created the website to “share informative stories of the momentous events, significant documents and influential leaders that helped create and shape our country.”

“On August 20, 1776, a team of Founders submitted a design that included, among several features, Moses parting the Red Sea, which was not used. However, other elements were used such as the Latin motto “E Pluribus Unum”, “Out of Many, One”, The Eye of Providence in a triangle (the one above the pyramid) signifying God was watching over us, and the year 1776 (MDCCLXXVI) in Roman numerals (at the base of the pyramid).

Congress was not completely satisfied with the design and tabled the project for over three years. On March 25, 1780, Congress formed a new committee and this one included Francis Hopkinson, the man who also created the flag design we still use today.

His proposal included a shield of thirteen red and white stripes and the blue chief (top), a constellation of thirteen stars surrounded by clouds and glory, and the concept of olive branches for peace and arrows for war, although these were held by a maiden and a soldier, not an eagle.

Congress was still not satisfied, so they convened another committee more than two years later, on May 4, 1782. This group included, among others, William Barton, a design specialist. His design introduced an eagle, although not a bald eagle, an unfinished pyramid with thirteen steps indicating that America was not finished growing, and the overall design of the reverse, but not the mottos.

The third time was not a charm for Congress and on June 13, 1782, they gave all three proposals to Charles Thompson, the Secretary of Congress, and asked him to give the design a try. Thompson, a Latin scholar, took select elements as noted above from the three committees and created the obverse (front) design we know today, notably making the eagle a bald eagle and having it clutch thirteen olive branches and thirteen arrows.

Thompson also added the two Latin mottos found on the reverse of our seal, Annuit Coeptis, “He (God) Has Favored Our Undertaking”, over the pyramid, and Novus Ordo Seclorum, “A New Order for the Ages”, found under the pyramid.

He submitted his design to the Continental Congress on June 20, 1782 and it was approved the same day. Finally, on September 15, 1789, after the new Federal government had been formed under the Constitution, the United States Congress also approved the Great Seal as the official seal of our country.”

Oh, and BTW…